Hoagy Carmichael, 82, who composed some of America's most unforgettable popular songs during a decades long entertainment career that included singing and acting roles on television and in the movies, died yesterday in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
Mr. Carmichael, author of "Stardust," "Lazy River" and "Georgia on still heard, hummed, sung and remembered years after they were written--was rushed yesterday morning to Eisenhower Memorial Medical Center, where he died shortly afterward in the emergency room.
A nursing supervisor said the Indiana born artist and entertainer died at 10:22 a.m. "as the result of cardiac problems."
Self-taught in music, Mr. Carmichael raspy voice and the casual air of Hoosier homeyness he projected in concert and screen appearances reinforced the image and aura of bittersweetness, or down-home folksiness, that make his songs so popular in the jazz and swing eras.
Mr. Carmichael wrote "The Nearness of You," "Rockin' Chair," "Skylark," "Ol' Buttermilk Sky" and a song that won the 1951 Academy award, "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening."
Hoagland Howard Carmichael was born and reared in Bloomington, Ind., home of Indiana University. His mother played ragtime piano at fraternity and sorority dances and sometimes took him with her.
Although he never had a music lesson, a piano was handy in his home, and one afternoon, after hearing the Indiana University alma mater played on the school's chimes, he put a finger to the family keyboard. He tried to copy the tune.
"And I did," he recalled years later. "That was the beginning of my piano-playing career. And I went on from there and loved every minute of it."
Mr. Carmichael went on to get a law degree from Indiana, and to spend some time practicing, as well. Yet at the same time, he maintained his avid interest in music, leading a three-piece swing band while in school and also trying his hand at composing.
In 1924 he composed "Riverboat Shuffle" in the spiritual idiom, which was recorded and published. He was already engaged in the practice of law when he composed in his spare time a song called "Washboard Blues," which also was recorded.
A few months later, the story is told, he was seated at his law office desk, bemoaning the mundane nature of his assignments and his paucity of clients, when in a record store across from his office he heard a song being played -"Washboard Blues."
"All of a sudden," he said, "I got a crazy urge to forget law, contracts, legal briefs, etc., and decided songwriting was for me."
He walked out of his office, locked the door, packed his bags and set out for New York City.
Some false starts yet lay in wait, but soon he wrote "Stardust," published about 40 years ago.
Until the arrival of rock 'n' roll, Mr. Carmichael turned out hit after hit, many of them featured in films.
One of his best-known movie roles was as a pianist and singer in "To Have and Have Not" with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.
In recent years he divided his time between an apartment on Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard and a home in Palm Springs. He had two sons and was divorced.